Courier’s are a constant pain in my life and I wish shippers would not use them, here are my thoughts which is following my current experience with DHL.
Shipping from Overseas
When ordering online and the company uses a courier this can be a very expensive method of getting the goods to you.
The cost of the actual shipping will be very expensive in itself but the courier will also charge you their “custom broker service” fee, anticipated duty and tax. Even if your goods don’t have any duty or tax at the border the courier company will still charge you “in anticipation”. Even if there is not duty and tax you might not get that money back, as I have experienced.
Some couriers will not delivery until they receive this money from you. They are often extremely aggressive in their approach with nasty email reminders. Some will contact prior to delivery about the fee, which is slightly better, but some will expect you to pay “cash on deliver”. There are also no standards to how much they can charge, so they can really ask you for anything they want.
Choose Regular Postal Services Over Couriers
Unless you want to get into this gong show of expense for a not so significant item then don’t order the product unless the shipper uses the regular non-courier mail system. Going through a system like Royal Mail, USPS or Canada Post, for example, is much cheaper, and unlike couriers your local mail person knows your community well and there is less chance of mis-delivery. If you are not in when the delivery takes place your local Post Office is often more convenient to get to then the couriers pick up point. I’ve also noticed there are some areas couriers don’t even cover and outsource to the regular postal service, this defeats the purpose of using a courier anyway.
There are the bad experiences I have found with various courier services:
- Got the address wrong on the customs form and an inaccurate explanation of the contents
- Jumbled address on their tracking with incorrect information
- Aggressive attitude about paying their custom broker fee
- On delivery throws the parcel in a bush making it impossible to find
- Delivers to incorrect address, just chucks it on someones doorstep and doesn’t obtain the required signature
- Constantly loosing parcels
- Inaccurate delivery windows, they say its “out for delivery” then 3 days later it actually arrives out of the blue.
- Customer service redirects you to someone in the US and local UPS office never returns calls or investigates lost parcels
- Drives over a neighbours flower beds instead of keeping to the road
- Constantly delivering to the wrong address
- No Canada customer service and have to talk to someone in the US with little knowledge of the local setup
- Refuses to deliver with no explanation
- Having to pick up then waiting for hours in a huge line up of people
- Pick up points in the middle of nowhere
So, in my experience, they provide very poor service levels, near impossible to contact them, aggressive attitude, and one never knows if the item will actually be delivered. My recommendation is to always use the local Post Office for better service levels and delivery, even if the good might take longer to reach you.
This is a great overview about using courier services for delivery between US and Canada.
I love the Canada Tariff Finder tool mentioned in the article.
UPDATE 24 November 2023
Despite DHL having three slightly different addresses for me the package eventually turned up, which is a minor miracle. Even though not liable for custom duty they still charged me for it, and didn’t provide a refund. I explained the situation to the company I ordered from and they provided a complete refund.
Purolator is the current courier company I am having to fight. They “supposedly” delivered something to me but handed it to an unauthorized person who has obviously stolen it. So, I told Purolator I consider this undelivered and they must get it to me quickly. They responded to the “investigation” which they were supposed to have carried out but it was just to fob me off with some lame excuse that didn’t correlate with notes the courier placed on the tracking ticket. The response was “copy and paste”, they didn’t even hide that fact given that my name is in a different font than the rest of the message.
This is not the first incident with this company, they are just as bad as the others. I also advised the company I bought the product from. Who knows if this will ever be sorted out.
Courier companies are becoming a complete pain and a barrier for doing business online. I don’t want a fight every time I order something.